This is another feature interview from my ongoing series. I have been super busy so it has been a few weeks since I have written one of these. I have a few in the works. You can find the series here. Interview Features – The Series
Going Through the Changes of Mental Illness
How far we have come on our journey is just one part of the process that is having a mental illness. The origins story, where we started this journey from, is where my interview features that I write often start off because it tells us how a person became who they are today. We all have another origins story— and this is the story of Laura Sanscartier— from Dracut, MA.
For Laura, her mental illness has taken so much from her life, she had trained to be an opera singer. “I will never have that life,” she explains. Laura expected to live in NYC and work steadily in the classical music world, but often mental illness changes the trajectory of our life goals.
“I expected to have a child by now. That is not possible because of medications I was prescribed as a young woman. I expected uhh and none of it came to be.”
Laura’s story began at fifteen when she was told that generalized anxiety was her diagnosis. As it often happens with mental illnesses Laura’s diagnosis grew over the years. It was just two years later when Laura was seventeen that her doctors added depression alongside her diagnosis.
In her twenties, Laura began to show symptoms of Bipolar Two, and it was after a manic episode that her diagnosis became Bipolar One. It would be a single event that would further drive Laura through the mental illness ladder when Post-traumatic Stress Disorder became another part of the equation.
“I was raped when I was twenty but did not report it or talk about it until a few years later,” Laura explains her origins story. “The diagnosis of PTSD came a bit after that, I honestly can’t remember a time in my life that I was not different. I worried a lot about things, even as a child.”
Laura reflects that she has the most loving family in the world, but at times her brain often gets in the way of enjoying life. With anxiety always a part of her life, and the fact that Laura’s intrusive thoughts are still there on the outskirts of her mind, it can make life hard.
“I began self-harming when I was twelve, and from there my real mental illness journey began.”
The daily struggle for Laura and her mental illness is a daily grind. Mental illness was always a barrier in her life, it still felt to her as if she was running into a brick wall. But, Laura is finding ways to make her mental illness a part of her life.
“It is something to work WITH instead of against,” she talks about the present. “and it’s beginning to work here and there. My agitation and Bipolar rage make things difficult when I just want to “flip out,” but instead find coping tools to deal with the feelings.”
Laura has found ways to cope but there will always be bad days in her life, there are still days where she can’t leave her bed, but she is finding that these days happen less that they have in the past.
It’s ritual and daily routine that Laura gets through most days. It starts with waking in the morning and taking a cocktail of mood stabilizers and anti-anxiety medications. Laura goes to work for a few hours a day and then returns home to her husband. Laura’s routine includes writing or reading and driving to her weekly therapy and doctor’s appointments.
“I try to be helpful around the house, or cook a little (I’m awful at that) and stay in touch with friends and family,” Laura talks about her daily life. “Sometimes I revert to text only because I’m too anxious to talk on the phone, even when I take PNR’s to help.”
Laura also uses computer games as a way to temporarily “check out” of life when she is overwhelmed. Television with her husband is one of the things that helps Laura get through her day and getting to sleep at the same time every night.
“Sleep hygiene ESSENTIAL for my mood and well-being.”
It not uncommon to end up in the hospital when life becomes overwhelming, it is the same in Laura’s life. For Laura, her hospital visits came when her brain is completely overwhelmed.
“I have been hospitalized over forty times since the age of eighteen. I have attempted suicide twice. I have had nearly 100 ECT treatments. I have been to chiropractors, naturopaths, acupuncturists. And doctors of all specialties,” Larua explains. “And still, the beast of mental illness lives inside me. Mental illness is trying to take over my life, but I WILL NOT LET IT!”
Laura wants the mental illness community to know that we are warriors, and we are fighting for our very lives. This life can be hellish, but Laura wants you to know that we must never admit defeat.
“We must keep fighting,” Laura says with vigor. “We must never be ashamed of what we go through. The more we talk about it, the less the fear and stigma will surround it. Keep talking, and shine like the warrior you are!!!”
In Laura’s journey writing a mental health blog, it has helped her see what she is honestly feeling and experiencing at any given time. It offers Laura the opportunity to look at her experiences with fresh eyes and learning that you are not alone in this journey. Laura is always learning about herself through her blog.
In this mental illness life, you have to find the things that make life worth living because if you don’t the darkness may take you over completely. Laura finds that things that make her life worth living are those closest to her.
“My husband, Paulie, is my rock and my salvation. He alone makes it all worth it. But I am so lucky to have a kick-ass family, with incredible parents and siblings. Now nieces and nephews as well! I also have a great support network of friends. Ultimately, the people in my life are what make life worth living.”
Laura is a publised author featured in the book “Tales from the Locals.”
If you want to find more about Laura Sanscartier you can find her on her blog:
Interviewee: Laura Sanscartier
Interview: James Edgar Skye